BY FRED MILLS
To paraphrase Monty Python, in their classic sketch about certain wines, this is a record album with a message, and the message is beware. This is not an album for rocking out, this is an album for laying down and avoiding.
The collectors, speculators and just plain music nerds who lined up outside independent record stores across the land at Record Store Day’s second annual Black Friday (Nov. 23) no doubt scored big (how about that limited edition Dave Matthews box? It’s now on eBay for several hundred bucks, urp!). But as we all know, not all records are created equal, particularly certain reissues that haven’t stood the test of time despite notching a certain “legendariness.”
Case in point: the Replacements’ final album. Heavily touted on Black Friday RSD for being its first appearance on vinyl, it is therefore highly coveted among vinyl geeks who have long wanted to replace their 1990 CDs. Unfortunately, All Shook Down also has the distinction of being the worst ‘mats album. A more accurate title would have been Replacements Stink, but I believe that one was already taken.
Now let me be clear: I am a Replacements fan from Day One (here’s some tentative proof), but let’s face it, since Don’t Tell A Soul is actually a Paul Westerberg solo album bearing the Replacements name, this one simply gets that “worst” designation by default. It has its moments, of course, like “Merry Go Round” and maybe the title track, as Westerberg had not yet run out of steam as a songwriter (give him about 8 years). But overall it’s a flaccid, meandering affair, and it was eminently clear the band itself had run out of steam by this point. Westerberg was right in pulling the plug, and no amount of revisionism from fanboys and paulie-come-latelys to the cause can alter that fact.
For completists and fanatics only. As the old saw goes, let’s not and say we did. Meh.
Luckily, the recently reunited band is kicking ass and taking names. Huzzah for that, because it was high time Paul and Tommy Stinson reclaimed the fame. The band, in its prime, was too great to be remembered by something as lackluster as this ‘un.
DOWNLOAD: “Merry Go Round,” “All Shook Down”